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A depiction of the gas shortage in affecting consumers.

1973 Oil Crisis ==

General Overview

The 1973 Oil Crisis was an economic and energy based crisis that occurred when several key oil producing countries enacted embargos on oil exportation to Western countries due to their support given to Israeli Military during the Yom Kippur War [1].

Surrounding Historic Turmoil

The decisions to embargo western powers came to the controversial nature of Israel’s rise. Being compromised of approximately 56% of previously Palestinian Arab lands, the Zionist state upset many Arab countries, as its formation clashed with the rising nationalistic rhetoric that had gained momentum in the Middle East of the Post-Colonialism period. Though there had been multiple conflicts involving Israel and its neighbors, the Yom Kippur War was the first to have dramatic effects on a global scale, especially due to the support garnered from NATO at the time. Many of the earlier wars included border conflicts and offensives such as the Sinai Campaign of 1956 and the Six-Day War, each requisitioning a large amount of land granted to Israel by the UN [2].

Embargo as a Demonstration of Power

With the formation of OPEC in 1960, the oil producers in the Middle East had gained a large negotiation standing with the bustling economies of the West, all of which had growth rates that surpassed the rate in which producers of raw material could keep up. With 55% of all oil production during 1973, OPEC controlled an extraordinary large amount of oil, which furthered its ability to cripple the growing nations who heavily relied on oil for drug and material production [3]. During the Yom Kippur War, OPEC used is powers to strike an embargo to deter the support for Israeli defense [4]. Many of the Western powers who had depended on cheap, always affordable oil had now been put into a compromising situation, and brought negotiations to the table on both sides.

Domestic Effects of the Embargo

The now unavailable OPEC oil to the United States had caused a large commotion, and would lead to numerous laws regarding energy control, consumption, and efficiency. This occurred during a time where 85% of Americans drove to work, and would begin a severe recession to hit the world after the Post WWII growth [4]. Gas prices quadrupled in price, and also opened the way for alternative energies and attempts to wean the United States and other countries off of foreign energy. This would later benefit in the long run as America and other countries had begun to invest in more efficient technologies, though at the time, the embargo caused much civil unrest and tension. Nixon’s proposals and attempt to limit fuel consumption did much to ease the shockwaves; however overall, the Western world was no longer advantaged in dealing with the newer rising Middle Eastern countries discussing the Israeli conflict.

Global Significance

As a rising star on the rapidly globalizing world, the Middle East was rising out of a post colonialism state, especially as European powers such as Britain began to pull out of Palestine and other countries. The United States had also begun to invest efforts in the Middle East, especially due to the large oil reserves that the region held. The 1973 Oil Crisis demonstrated to the world the power of this region, and its effect even on long standing powerful nations such as Britain and the United States. The biggest effect though was the newly found power that the Middle Eastern powers found with their control of the oil industry, and how quickly they could influence economies and foreign policies without acts of war. Along with changing how negotiations involving the two regions with Israel, it also demonstrated the particular means and stability that the Middle East had. This would also affect international policy, as seen with the recent Iraq wars and the fluctuation of gas/oil prices due to those.


1. Wikipedia, 1973 Oil Crisis,

2. Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Arab-Israeli Wars,

3.The Energy Information Administration, 25th Anniversary of the 1973 Oil Embargo,

4., The Arab Oil Embargo of 1973-74,